Chigago O'Hare International Airport viewed from above at sunrise.
Photo Credit: O'Hare International Airport

FAA Approval Granted for Multi-Billion Dollar O’Hare Airport Terminal

LONDON – Construction can start on a multi-billion dollar project to develop new passenger terminals at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, following the formal approval by the FAA.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg together with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and local, state, and federal officials marked the milestone yesterday at O’Hare following the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) completion of the project’s environmental review. 

“Chicago’s transportation infrastructure is what makes this city an economic powerhouse of global importance,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“Now, as we prepare to break ground on O’Hare’s newest terminal, Chicago and this entire region will be positioned to grow and create good-paying jobs through the benefits of first-rate infrastructure, beginning with the construction project itself.”

The review analyzed Chicago Department of Aviation projects including new terminals, on-airport hotels, airfield and taxiway improvements and support facilities.

It also reviewed the FAA’s proposal to make permanent angled approaches to Runway 10R/28L to allow simultaneous arrival to multiple runways.

The FAA concluded that proposed construction projects and changes to air traffic procedures will not significantly affect any environmental resources, including noise, air quality, water resources, and historic sites.  

Secretary Buttigieg also met with students studying on Chicago’s Southside to become aviation maintenance technicians. During his visit at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, where American Airlines is training new technicians, the Secretary heard how students can learn the skills necessary to move into good jobs in aviation.  
 
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has made more than $73 million available to O’Hare and more than $20 million to Midway International Airport in the first year. The law created three programs, investing $25 billion total over five years into the U.S. aviation system. 

The FAA operates three air traffic control towers at O’Hare and manages more than 700,000 annual arrivals and departures on eight runways at the airport

US Transport secretary Buttigeig speaks at the official ceremony to approve development of Chicago O'Hare International Airport.

PHOTO CREDIT: O’Hare International Airport

“O’Hare is the lifeblood of Chicago’s economy, directly employing tens of thousands of Illinois residents and bringing more than 70 million passengers to and through our city each year,” said Mayor Lightfoot.

“The next phase of work will expand O’Hare’s capacity to serve travelers and improve the customer experience, transforming it into one of the greatest airports of the 21st century.”  

“Chicago’s transportation infrastructure is what makes this city an economic powerhouse of global importance,” said Secretary Buttigieg, “Now, as we prepare to break ground on O’Hare’s newest terminal, Chicago and this entire region will be positioned to grow and create good-paying jobs through the benefits of first-rate infrastructure, beginning with the construction project itself.” 

The FAA review process, which began in 2018, consisted of a complex technical review of the environmental impact of the Terminal Area Plan, or “TAP.” This review, which is common for large airport capital projects, was required by the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. 

“Today’s news from the FAA gives us a clear path forward to start construction on the Terminal Area Plan which includes Satellite Concourses 1 and 2 and the O’Hare Global Terminal, the centerpieces of the capital improvement program we call O’Hare 21,” said Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee of the CDA, which owns and operates both O’Hare and Midway International Airports.

“I thank the FAA for its comprehensive review of the proposed plan as we work to completely transform the O’Hare experience for the traveler of tomorrow.” 

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